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Lee Enfield

Rifle 303 No.4 Mark 1

Lee Enfield Rifle 303 No.4 Mark 1

Lee Enfield rifle 303 No.4 Mark 1
Type: British infantry rifle
History: The well-known Lee Enfield rifle began its service with the British Army in 1895 and ran into some 27 different models before being replaced by a self-loader in 1957. The most famous model was probably the Mark 3, the 'Short' Lee Enfield, so-called because it introduced a new idea into military rifles. Prior to its introduction (in 1903) it was customary to produce two rifle type weapons, one a long rifle for infantry use and one a short carbine for cavalry and other mounted troops such as engineers and artillery. The 'Short' Lee Enfield was shorter than a normal 'long' rifle, and longer than a carbine, and thus it was possible to standardize on one weapon for all branches of the Army.

Lee Enfield rifle No.4 Mark 1
Lee Enfield 303 Rifle No.4 Mark 1

Excellent as the Mark 3 was, it had some drawbacks, and the major one was that its manufacture was time-consuming, demanding much machining and hand­fitting. The other principal complaint was that the nature and location of the back­sight (an open-topped U in front of the chamber) made it difficult to master quickly. Because of these points, work began immediately after the Armistice in 1918 to try and develop a rifle which retained the Lee-Enfield's many virtues ­ robustness, speed of operation, reliability - but which had better sights and was easier to make. The first attempt was the 'No.1 Mark 5' (a new system of nomenclature had been adopted after the war) which was little more than a Mark 3 with an aperture sight at the rear of the receiver. It was never adopted as a service weapon. The design was then simplified into the 'No.1 Mark 6' which used a heavier barrel, a new design of bolt, less woodwork, and a projecting muzzle on to which a spike bayonet could be fixed. This too was never adopted, but with a little more improvement it became the 'No.4 Mark 1', the standard World War 2 rifle.

Polnish soldiers at Tobruk 1941 with Enfield rifles
Polish soldiers with Lee Enfield rifles. Polish troops were among 14,000 men replacing the Australians in Tobruk by 1941, Oct.26 after a 7-week-exchange.

The No.4 rifle was much like the earlier Mark 6, but there were numerous small changes which simplified production. It was first issued late in 1939, though not officially adopted until 13 February 1941. Well over a million were made during the war, both in Britain and across the Atlantic in the USA and Canada, and after some misgivings by old soldiers who missed the immaculate finish of the Mark 3, the No.4 became liked and trusted in its turn. It remains in service today as a sniping rifle, using 7.62mm NATO ammunition.

British troops on a Sherman tank with Enfield rifles and Bren machine gun
British troops, armed with Lee-Enfield rifles and the light Bren machine-gun, moving forward on the back of a Sherman tank in September 1944.

South African soldiers preparing a attack with grenades and Enfield rifles
South African soldiers at Sollum in January 1942, equipped with grenades and Enfield rifles, the standard British manner.


British Enfield rifle No.4 in action
British Enfied rifle No.4 in action protecting a Bren gunner. This revised specimen was the best of its type and is still in use today by NATO forces.

Lee Enfield rifle 303 No.4 Mark 1
infantry rifle
9lb 1oz
25.19 in long, 5 grooves, right hand twist
Feed system

10-round detachable box magazine

System of operation
Lee turn-bolt
Muzzle velocity
2400 feet/sec
Rate of fire
10 rounds in 10 seconds
Royal Ordonance Factory, Fazakerley - Royal Ordonance Factory, Maltby - Birmingham Small Arms Co., Tyseley
- Savage Arms Co., Chicopee Falls, Mass., USA
- Long Branch Arsenal, Ontario, Canada
Early Production
since 1895, Mark 3 1903
Production delivery No.4 Mark 1
Final delivery
Production figure in World War 2
1+ million

3d model Tommy with Enfield rifle
3d model of a Tommy with Enfield rifle

PC game WW2 Total


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